How Do I Use Fluoxetine for Depression?

C. K. Lanz

When taking fluoxetine for depression, patients should follow whatever instructions were given by their treating health care professional. This drug is taken orally once a day, typically in the morning. In some cases, a doctor may recommend taking fluoxetine for depression twice a day, usually in the morning and at lunch. If prescribed, a liquid dose must be measured using whatever specific measuring device was given with the medication rather than a conventional measuring spoon. The dosage of fluoxetine for depression will vary among individuals and will often need to be adjusted when first prescribed.

In the US, fluoxetine for depression is sold under the brand name Prozac®.
In the US, fluoxetine for depression is sold under the brand name Prozac®.

This medication is available as a liquid solution and as a capsule or tablet. In most cases, a patient using fluoxetine for depression will take a liquid or capsule dose orally once a day. If the doctor recommends that the medication be given twice a day, it is often taken in the morning and at noon. Some capsules are delayed-release and need only be taken once weekly. It is not necessary to take the medication with food.

Fluoxetine is an antidepressant that acts on serotonin receptors in the brain.
Fluoxetine is an antidepressant that acts on serotonin receptors in the brain.

It can be difficult to determine the best dose for an individual patient. Doctors will usually begin with a low dose that is gradually increased until the patient feels well. It can take up to five weeks for a patient to experience the full benefit of this medication. Patients should not take any more or less of fluoxetine for depression than what their doctors prescribe, so liquid doses in particular must be measured with care using the measuring device given with the prescription.

A patient should not suddenly stop taking fluoxetine for depression. Doing so can cause withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and tingling. Additionally, mood changes and anxiety can result. Rather than stop this medication suddenly, the dosage should be gradually decreased under the guidance of the prescribing health care professional.

Fluoxetine for depression is marketed under the brand name Prozac® in the United States. It is a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that has been prescribed in America since its first introduction in 1986. Essentially, SSRIs work by blocking the body’s reabsorption of serotonin, a neurotransmitter. In doing do, SSRIs seem to help patients boost their moods.

There is a series of side effects associated with fluoxetine for depression. Weight loss, sexual side effects, and nausea are possible. Some patients can experience weakness, excessive sweating, and dry mouth. In some cases, severe side effects develop requiring immediate medical intervention. Signs include hallucination, difficulty breathing, and seizures.

Like many antidepressants, fluoxetine for depression may cause unexpected changes in mood and mental health. People less than 24 can experience suicidal tendencies and are cautioned before taking this medication. Individuals older than 24 can also become suicidal on this medication, especially when the dosage is changed. As a result, both patients and their friends and family should remain vigilant for signs of suicidal tendencies while undergoing treatment.

Symptoms of fluoxetine include mood changes and anxiety.
Symptoms of fluoxetine include mood changes and anxiety.

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Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - As long as people realize that this is a problem with dosage or adjustment and not a reason to never take medication for depression. I was chronically depressed for a long, long time because I had convinced myself I would be worse off if I took Prozac or whatever else. But when I finally tried it, it's been one of the best decisions I ever made. It has drawbacks, but nothing that compares with constant depression.


@Ana1234 - The experts say that the reason people can be at a higher risk of suicide when on the medication is because they lose the sense of exhaustion and powerlessness that comes with depression, but they do still feel worthless, or at least have the same thought patterns for a while afterwards.

So basically you may still feel like killing yourself, and you suddenly have the energy to do something about it. Which is why people have to be so cautious about going on these medications, particularly if they aren't getting any other form of psychiatric help. It's all too easy for a doctor to prescribe this kind of medication and then never follow up on it.


They aren't kidding about the suicidal tendencies. I thought they were only possible during the first few weeks of taking the medication, and, to be honest, after the first couple of weeks I was reacting so well to the pills that I completely forgot about the chance that I could have that kind of reaction.

Then, stress in my life unexpectedly increased and I found myself suffering from the worst suicide ideation I'd had for a long time. It was the strangest thing, because it didn't seem to be accompanied by depression like it usually was. I was just starting to feel convinced that it was the correct thing to do.

Luckily, I went to the doctor and my counselor and we adjusted my script until I felt better. But it was a very scary and unexpected thing to happen.

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